Return to Wai Koa Loop Trail

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    One of the signs along the trail.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    A lilly pond awaits on the Wai Koa Loop Trail.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    A long row of Honduras Mahogany trees for passersby to admire the Wai Koa Loop Trail.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    A runner and some walkers make their way along the Wai Koa Loop Trail and through the surrounding Honduras Mahogany trees.

It’s a Sunday afternoon, clouds have rolled in, a breeze pushes the leaves around, and a light rain is starting to fall.

The rain, somehow, makes it even better, being here next to Kalihiwai Lagoons, not a soul in sight. My wife and I sit in silence, watching ripples on the water and listening to the birds singing in the trees. It seems as if we have entered another world.

This is just one small part of why we enjoyed our return to Wai Koa Loop Trail.

It’s easy to find. Just drive to Kilauea Mini Golf and Botanical Gardens at Anaina Hou Community Park. The head of the trail is just beyond the main parking lot not far beyond a row of parking spaces and a children’s playground.

It’s free, too. Just check in and let them know you’re headed out.

It had been far too long, nearly four years, when we last made this five-mile hike that took us past so many spectacular sights and sounds. Why we waited so long, I don’t have a good reason. The days, the weeks, the months, the years, past quicker than we realize.

Like last time, we came across a handful of people. For long stretches, besides a few horses, cows and an unseen barking dog, there was no one but us.

Peaceful and pleasant are two words that come to mind on the Wai Koa Loop Trail. We felt fortunate to be there, walking freely through this scenic and beautiful land of many wonders. If you need a place to unwind, to lower your stress level, to feel refreshed, to spend time with family away from the rush of the world, this is the place.

The most amazing sight was the row after row after row of mahogany trees, planted in perfect symmetry, sunlight peeking through the branches and splashing on the ground. They say about 86,000 Honduras mahogany trees cover more than 200 acres of Wai Koa Plantation. Between each row, a passage calls to be followed. It’s enticing. Walk this way. But don’t. Stay on the trail. This is a working farm on private land.

We looked in awe at a spider web, stretched between two trees standing about 10 feet apart, a spider in the middle of that web. How do they do that?

The lily pond, just as we remembered, was still just as picturesque as last time, reflections of the clouds within its waters.

The Hanalei mountains and Namahana Mountain stood as majestic as ever.

Then, back to the Kalihiwai Lagoons.

A sign states it was part of what used to be a 30-acre aquaculture project to grow fresh water prawns in the late 1970s. That failed, so tilapia, bass and koi are raised there today.

Either way, there’s something soothing about this secluded, sleepy site.

Our next stop would have been the Stone Dam, but it remains closed due to damage from the April flooding.

Still, we did not go home disappointed.

We covered the 4.5-mile hike in about two hours, got in some much-needed exercise and spent some rare time together, just talking, walking and feeling like two of the luckiest people around.

One thing is certain. We can’t let nearly four years pass before returning. This place is good for the heart, mind and soul.


Bill Buley is editor-in-chief of The Garden Island newspaper. He can be reached at


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